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We don’t believe in doing too many IPs: Megha Tata

Discovery Kids, part of Discovery Communications network, has launched their second IP, ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’, an animated adaptation of the hit Bollywood franchise ‘Fukrey’ and ‘Fukrey Returns’. The kids’ genre, which contributes to 20 per cent of the total viewership on television, is a big focus for Discovery Communications, according to Megha Tata, MD, Discovery Communications – South Asia.

‘Fukrey Boyzzz’ has been created in collaboration with Excel Entertainment, co-founded by Ritesh Sidhwani and Paperboat Design Studio, an award-winning animation studio. The Discovery Kids team, along with 300 animators from Paperboat, created the unique animation for the show. Excel Entertainment was consulted for the scripts on the show and adapting the on-screen characters for their animated counterparts.

Discovery Kids has committed to 156 episodes in the first season, which will be aired on TV at 1.30 pm, with a repeat telecast at 7.30 pm. Uttam Pal Singh, Head, Discovery Kids, wants parents as well as kids to connect with the show, which prompted the channel to invest in characters who were ‘relatable’. Discovery Kids is also planning licensing and merchandising around the show in partnership with Black, White & Orange.

Watch the animated music video.

Adgully spoke to Megha Tata and Uttam Pal Singh on Discovery Kids’ latest IP, marketing & content strategies, growth of the kids’ genre in India, impact of TRAI’s NTO and much more.

We invested in the characters, not the franchise: Uttam Pal Singh

How do you view the growth in the kids’ genre?
I am very bullish about the kids’ genre. Kids love to watch content and now broadcasters are taking them seriously and are definitely looking at shows and IPs that can penetrate this audience. It is happening all across. There is a huge investment coming from the broadcasters to create an ecosystem around the shows and the animation.

Earlier you had the ‘Singham’ franchise and now there is ‘Fukrey’. How does such content resonate with the kids?
The most important thing for us right now is a space which is very competitive; while making a show how do you get the kids to connect or sample it. With ‘Little Singham’, we leveraged the strength of the ‘Singham’ brand. The value around that character really helped us launch the show. As the film was made in various languages it really helped us. Another factor is that we Indians love cops as characters and kids want to emulate them. Similarly, ‘Fukrey’ is an amazing franchise and the youth have loved it, moreover, the sequel was a bigger hit. When we saw that opportunity and put a little kid filter around it, we got a perfect fit. Also, we wanted to create a comedy show that could be watched by the entire family. ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’ comes with the experience of Excel Entertainment, which really helped us raise the level of creating content. They came on board as collaborators on the script as well.

How have you seen TRAI’s NTO impacting the kids’ genre?
During the early implementation stage, the viewership did go down. We had to take a call and had to sustain through it. Thankfully, the strategies that we had put in place and the demand for Discovery Kids’ content was so pacey that we were able to get the viewership back. It was a huge challenge. We now want to scale bigger heights. The content that we are offering the consumers is strong enough for them to pick up Discovery Kids in the entire bouquet. The pricing strategy has also helped us. Moreover, Discovery as a brand is built on trust. These factors are helping us gain more viewership going forward.

Has the emergence of OTT affected this genre?
Not really. We put ‘Little Singham’ on Netflix and it resonated with the global audience. TV still rules and OTT is catch-up TV.

You had mentioned that you invested in characters and not the franchise?
For us, the characters are really key, they are the heart of any successful show. If we have locked on great characters, you can tell great stories from them. If you have sorted that out, other things will fall into place. We tell great stories from beginning to end, but the important part is whether the character is able to connect with the audience.

Have you seen any impact of the economic slowdown on advertiser interest in the show?
The impact will not be so stark in the kids’ genre once you give the value to the advertisers. Discovery, being a channel with strong reach, has also brought in some great Indian IPs which have been differentiators. Thus, we have been able to tackle those issues. Sponsors have shown great interest and we are in the process of finalising some.

What is the marketing strategy for ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’?
The team at Excel Entertainment is putting their might behind our marketing efforts. Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are creating buzz on Twitter. On the day of the release of the first trailer, it was trending on Twitter at #3. We have never seen such a response to the kids’ genre, frankly. As a marketing strategy in the kids’ genre, this has been a clutter breaking experience.

How are you strengthening your regional focus?
Discovery Kids is available in four languages (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English). With the ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’ launch, we will be offering two additional languages – Kannada and Malayalam. It is important for us to penetrate those markets and connect with the audiences there in their language.

What would be your content strategy going forward?
We definitely don’t want to be in a space where we are creating 10 IPs, we want to focus on the shows that we create. Even with ‘Little Singham’, we researched well before we started working on that content and went big on it. Nobody had made the kind of investment that we made at that time; same goes for ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’. We believe this will be a disruptive show in the kid’s genre.

Discovery Kids has grown by 400% after the launch of Little Singham: Megha Tata

You have been in the organisation for 6 months now. How would you describe this period? What is your vision for Discovery?
It has been 6 months since our last interaction, where I had said that there are 3 things that I want to be focusing on. One of them was bringing the DNA of Discovery back, which means do fewer, but better and bigger content. Second was focus on kids and grow the kids’ space; and thirdly, bring D2C (direct-to-consumer) to the country.

Two of those boxes have almost been ticked. ‘The Man Vs Wild’ episode with PM Modi was obviously a huge success. That is exactly what Discovery’s DNA is about – to do better shows like that. In the coming months you will see more of that from our stable.

The kids’ genre was our second focus, and we are investing more in content for kids. We are investing in the Indian animation space as well. We want to be one of the top 3 kids’ players. We intend to focus more on this genre and build deep content.

I will talk to you about the D2C space early next year.

How do you intend to strengthen the content in the kids’ genre?
We don’t believe in doing too many IPs; we want to do less, but concentrate on doing them well and make it a huge success. We did that with ‘Little Singham’ and will continue that with ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’. It is technically the only two IPs that we have at present, but we want to make them work better.

What is the contribution of Discovery Kids’ to the overall ad revenue pie?
Discovery Kids contributes a large chunk to the ad revenue pie. Revenue from kids as a genre for us has grown 3X times in the last three years. We have grown by 400 per cent after the launch of ‘Little Singham’.

What kind of impact has Discovery seen post the implementation of NTO? Have you seen any impact of the economic slowdown?
Discovery Kids is the only channel which has the highest reach in the kids’ space. The NTO could have impacted us in a big way because of the genre that we are in, but two things have worked in our favour. First is the brand pull – the product proposition; and secondly, our pricing. The combination of these two things has worked, wherein the consumers want to subscribe to our channel as it brings in differentiation, and the price that they have to pay for it is worth it. If today at an industry level there is a 14-20 per cent fall in reach, we are also at the same level. We could have been worse off, but we are pretty much the same. We are well placed, we are available everywhere and the time spent on the channel shows that people are not only subscribing to the channel, but are also watching it.

The slowdown has impacted us, but for Discovery, ‘The Man Vs Wild’ episode with PM Modi helped us in the third quarter. I hope with the tax cuts the fourth quarter will mean more advertising for us. It will be a Happy Diwali for us, fingers crossed!

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